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MCGIBBON’S PLAYS (article first published : 2000-07-10)

A volume of post apartheid South African plays is currently being collected and edited by former Durban theatre director and producer Professor Murray McGibbon. A former manager of the Natal Performing Arts Council’s (NAPAC's) Loft Theatre Company and subsequently director of drama for the Playhouse Company in Durban prior to the arts council's demise, Murray McGibbon is now professor of theatre and drama at Indiana University in Bloomington, United States of America.

He was recently appointed an adjunct professor of African Studies but his primary academic responsibility is teaching acting and directing at graduate and undergraduate levels at Indiana University which boasts one of the largest theatre training programmes in the world.

Recognising the lack of published resources on South African drama generally, he made a proposal to Indiana University to document new writing of the post apartheid era in South Africa. He was awarded a 2000 Faculty Fellowship by the University to conduct research into plays written since the release of former President Nelson Mandela and is currently in South Africa collecting material and conducting interviews with playwrights and directors of contemporary indigenous work. The book, which will be the first published volume of post apartheid South African plays, will be released in the USA in late 2001.

Indiana University has recently acquired the writings of renowned South African playwright Athol Fugard who will travel to the USA to officially hand over his papers in September. His play Master Harold... and the boys, for which McGibbon won a 1993 Vita Award for best director, is a prescribed text in his Directing I course. Fugard will give several master classes while on the Bloomington Campus where he will be a visiting Wells Scholar.

"The apartheid era was a significant period in the life of South African drama and with its demise, playwrights are grappling with the new situation and challenges created by our unique South African identity as opposed to a theatre of political protest. I am confident that in discovering these news plays and playwrights and presenting them to an international audience that South African drama will not be relegated to the back burner," said McGibbon.

Although prominent and established writers have been approached to contribute plays to the volume, McGibbon is also seeking scripts from emerging writers. "The new South African culture will be forged, not by cultural commissars or politicians, but by ordinary people who need to become the guardians of our new democracy,” he says. “Culture is a way of progress dominated by laws different from those which dominate society. It is essential for the performing arts in South Africa to survive and they will do so in spite of the state's hopeless mismanagement of the so-called transformation of the former arts councils. The current status is a tragedy of Shakespearean proportion."

Playwrights who wish their work to be considered for inclusion in the volume can mail scripts in Word Perfect or Microsoft Word format on disc to Prof Murray McGibbon, 54 Haygarth Road Kloof 3610, South Africa no later than July 31, 2000. He may be contacted via email at mcgibbon@indiana.edu.




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